A Stocking We Will Go.....
(or how do they get the fish into the lakes and rivers?)

by K. Christopherson

You hear the stocking reports - you think, "Yes! I know they're in there... let's go!" But how exactly do the fish get from the hatchery to the lakes or rivers being stocked?

I had the privilege of watching Cherry Creek Reservoir being stocked with Rainbow trout on June 4, 1999. I asked the Colorado Division of Wildlife if I could observe the procedure and Cindy Regan, of the Chalk Cliffs hatchery, was very obliging. I waited by the boat ramp on the northwest side of the reservoir.

The DOW truck arrived at about noon - it's a pretty obvious truck - big tanks on the bed. The stocker this day is Rod Lane, a DOW employee for 28 years. The first thing he does is check the temperature of Cherry Creek Reservoir where the fish will be released. The water in the reservoir is 61F; the water in the truck tanks is 58F. It's important the the two temperatures are very similar - else the fish can go into shock and perhaps have a difficult time assimilating to their new home. The pH is also checked to make sure it is similar between tank and lake or river.

Next Rod opens the the valve and out come the fish!

Colorado fishing stocking
Taking the temperature of the water before releasing the Rainbows
Colorado fishing stocking
Opening up the tank valve - the fish are released

Today, Rod is releasing 652 lbs. of trout into the water. At an average 2.51 trout per pound, this equates to 1636 fish. And, this all happens in about one minute! The survival rate of stocked trout is close to 100%.

Colorado fishing stocking
Here they come! It's a big jump into the reservoir.
Colorado fishing stocking

The fish are about ten months old and have been raised at the Chalk Cliffs Hatchery (west of Buena Vista near the hot springs). Chalk Cliffs raises about 800,000 trout every year. Stocking of these cold-water fish takes places between March and July into various places around the state. Cherry Creek is stocked with Rainbows about every 15 days during the summer. The warm-water hatcheries also stock the reservoir.

Colorado fishing stocking
Oooh, I'm stuck! How come I'm always last?
Colorado fishing stocking

When asked if his job is "fun", Mr. Lane responds, "Yes". I think it would be a pretty fun occupation. Besides stocking, he works at the hatchery and is a game warden (both hunting and fishing).

rod lane
Mr. Rod Lane of the Division of Wildlife. Make sure you have your license!